New Mexico Man Dies from Botulism Poisoning

September 24, 2007

Botulism has killed a 52-year-old Sandoval County, N.M., man, according to the state Health Department.

State officials have not linked the man’s case to this summer’s recall of Castleberry’s Food Co. products, but they said the man had eaten some of the recalled goods in the past and had shopped at a store that sold several recalled canned goods.

The man, whose name was not released, was hospitalized July 26 in Albuquerque and died about six weeks later, the Health Department said.

In July, Castleberry’s announced a massive recall that ultimately included more than 90 potentially contaminated products, including its chili sauces, beef stew and corned beef hash. The Augusta, Ga., factory at the center of the botulism outbreak was closed in conjunction with the recall.

That plant was scheduled to open last week, after getting the green light last week from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The FDA has said the recall is not complete, and state officials are asking New Mexicans to check their cabinets and refrigerators to make sure they don’t have any of the recalled items.

“Botulism poisoning is a serious and potentially deadly illness,” state Environment Secretary Ron Curry said.

The Environment Department’s Food Program staff has visited stores and other food establishments to remove the recalled products from shelves but they believe some products could still be in consumers’ homes.

The Castleberry recall also involved a few canned pet food products.

State officials said consumers who have any of the recalled products should discard them.

Symptoms of botulism poisoning in humans can begin within hours of eating food that contains the toxin. Symptoms may include blurred vision, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing and muscle weakness that moves progressively down the body.

Botulism poisoning can also cause paralysis of the breathing muscles, which can result in death.

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